Nosebleed

The story “Nosebleed” is a basic intervention which can be varied in many different ways, and which serves as an example of the effectiveness of hypnotic suggestions in everyday life outside an explicitly therapeutic context. I have used the technique described below on five people, four of whom were children. In four cases the bleeding stopped within one to three minutes, and in one case there was no significant improvement. The valve should be turned to the right or left depending on the symptoms (to the left in order to increase blood flow). The suggestions are unambiguous, despite being phrased in an indirect and non-directive manner. The story can be used not only for somatic complaints, but also for patients suffering from erythrophobia (fear of blushing or compulsive blushing), as well as for patients with “bad” habits and other (chronic) psychosocial symptoms in order to highlight the power of the mind to eliminate a certain symptom without further ado. In such situations it is recommended that further episodes of the story be told, explaining how individuals simply “turned off” a problem or symptom (e.g. a red-hot oven ring, a garden hose or an annoying radio). Since most symptoms are involuntary and are defended by clients as occurring “not on purpose”, I would advise against discussing the content of the story on a cognitive level. Nevertheless, when eliminating symptoms it is always necessary first to ask oneself and the client, “What purpose does this symptom serve?”

They met by chance on a grassy field. The old man was exercising his dog, and the young man was simply going for a walk. They recognised each other because they belonged to the same chess club, and so they started chatting. Suddenly the old man hesitated. He took out a packet of tissues, pulled out a few and held them in front of his face. His nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. “Can I show you how to stop the bleeding?” said the younger man. “Look around you. Can you see anything red?” “That tree over there has red berries,” said the older man. “That’s right. Berries as red as blood. Can you imagine a valve on a water pipe in the same red colour?” “I can.” “Does it look more like the red handle on a tap, or a large red stopcock of the sort you sometimes use to turn off the water supply to a house?” “A stopcock.” As they stood next to each other and talked, the younger man stretched out his arm in front of him and kept turning his hand to the right as though he was closing a big valve. “You can put your tissues away again now,” he said.

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